Three mini-reviews for you this time around, to start making up (again) for lost time. If you just want to enter the contest, jump right to it.
In Search of the Lost Taste
I’ve been a fan of Microcosm Publishing for a number of years. Though I was a latecomer to the DIY wonder that are zines, I’ve been able to make up for lost time by ordering hand-drawn comics, zine anthologies, and, most importantly, cookzines (and though I’m sure they exist, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a non-vegan cookzine). Though I’m a regular Microcosm customer, they’ve also sent along a number of items to review and I’ve been pretty poor about keeping up.
The latest item they sent along was a copy of Joshua Ploeg’s In Search of the Lost Taste. Ploeg is a traveling vegan personal chef that wrote the entertaining A Chef’s Tale travel zine based on his time on the road as a traveling chef. If you’ve read A Chef’s Tale you’ll be ready for the unique approach Ploeg takes in In Search of the Lost Taste.
A combination cookbook and surreal tale of a tomato and aliens, Ploeg’s latest is unlike anything you’ve seen before. Ploeg takes pride in combining seemingly incompatible ingredients and creating something amazine out of them. Where else have you seen recipes like:
- Bamboo, Radish, Leek Hearts & Fried Gluten in Spicy Coconut Milk Sauce
- Cherry Wontons with Plum-Brandy Sauce and Yam-Mango Ice Cream
- Orange and Vanilla Tart with Mint & Pineapple Glaze
- or, Beet Pancakes with Creamy Dill Sauce & Wild Mushroom-Walnut Spread
While the book is aimed at the more adventurous eaters (I wouldn’t, for example, choose one of these recipes to serve to your grandmother-who-only-eats-beef as her first introduction to vegan food), you won’t find yourself thinking, “Oh man… another ‘Basic Hummus’ recipe?!!”
Thusfar, we’ve only tried one recipe (Potato-Cucumber Salad with Onions & Sweet-Sour Parsley Vinaigrette, which, by the way, makes a metric asston of food). It was very tasty and leaves me anxious to explore some of Ploeg’s more avant-garde recipes. (And the illustrations are great, too.)
Want a copy? You’ve got two choices:
- Tweet the following phrase: “Hey, @thevegblog, I want to win a copy of ‘In Search of Lost Taste’! #losttaste” On Tuesday January 26th at 9am eastern, I’ll pick a winner. I’ll ship anywhere in the world. Maybe even to the moon.
- Pick up a copy at Microcosm or AK Press for well under $10.
“Peace To All Creatures” Zine
The world can never have enough vegan-themed zines, so I was happy to see another one hitting the shelves last year titled “Peace to All Creatures.” Designwise, it’s quite nice, with an attractive color cover, nice photography (including a shot by yours truly in the second issue), and articles split into three categories: animals, veg diet & health, and social & green issues. The zine is edited by Pippi Howard from Colorado and Jessi VanPelt from Orlando (yes, seriously, it’s a zine that’s not produced in Portland!) and all of the writers in the first issue are women. There’s a little something for everyone here, from an article on vegan diets for dogs to a piece about pet snails and a feature about green art studios.
Given that non-glossy vegan magazines are slim pickings these days, it’s nice to see a well-written, well-designed zine like “Peace to All Creatures.” Sure, there are a thousand vegan blogs out there today, but it’s really nice to have something like this to leave out on your coffee table for visitors to flip through. Well done, Pippi and Jessi!
Vegan Fire & Spice: 200 Sultry and Savory Global Recipes
I’ll come clean right now and tell you I can’t deal with hot and spicy food very well. Plus, with a three-year-old, our food tends to be on the milder side. With that in mind, I wasn’t expecting to be able to make much out of Vegan Fire & Spice. It’s certainly not because I’m not a fan of Robin Robertson’s books — the pot pie from Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes is one of my favorites and I really enjoyed Quick-Fix Vegetarian. As it turns out, we just cut back a bit and have enjoyed everything we’ve made from here thusfar (plus, Robinson notes that “spicy doesn’t have to mean hot,” so not all of the recipes are made to singe your palate).
Each recipe is marked with a number of peppers, to help give an indication of how much you can expect your mouth to burn. The book is divided into five sections (The Americas, Mediterranean Europe, Middle East/Africa, India, and Asia), each with several subsections. As with all of Robinson’s books, each recipe is given context with a short write-up and there’s an informative introduction.
Thusfar, we’ve made with success: Vietnamese Noodles with Tempeh and Peanuts (big yum!), Baked Mahogany Tempeh, the very easy and tasty Ginger Broccoli, and South African Green beans.
While this book seems to have not received as much attention as her others (including her most recent, 1,000 Vegan Recipes (!!!)), every time I pick it up, I find another recipe I want to try. It’s a good one, even if you’re a hot and spicy wimp like me.
(Edited to provide an alternate source for Joshua Ploeg’s book.)